All Book Reviews

A Dance in Donegal
Deibel, Jennifer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In her debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, Jennifer Deibel paints beautiful pictures with her words.

I was able to experience the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Ballyman, Donegal with Moira Doherty who travels to her mother's homeland from Boston to teach school. Ballyman is a small village in Ireland that is shrouded in superstition, and rumors about Moira's mother.

This novel is a beautiful story of grace, love, and forgiveness that is amust read!

Reviewer's Name: Amanda
Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
Henry, Patti Callahan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

f you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, and perhaps were introduced to Joy Davidman through the movie, "Shadowlands", this in-depth look at her life, and struggles before she first began her correspondence with Lewis. Already a prolific poet and writer, Davidman was extremely well-educated and had been a child prodigy. This is an evocative account for her search for God, her quest for peace during a strained first marriage, and ultimately, coming to terms with the illness that took her life after finding fullflling love with C.S. Lewis. The book is well-researched, but is a novel that is written in the first person.

Reviewer's Name: Janet M.
Awards:
Terry Pratchett: The BBC Radio Drama Collection
Pratchett, Terry
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Sadly, I wasn't impressed with this, as a radio drama or an audio version of Pratchett's work. For Pratchett's Discworld books, this is definitely not an alternative to audio books of these novels. As a radio drama, the abridgment of the books is limited almost exclusively to sections of dialogue. The narration and storytelling background sounds aren't enough to allow the listener who hasn't already read or listened to the books to understand more than the basic plot. I was really surprised by this one, because BBC usually does such good work.

Reviewer's Name: Owsley
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. Book One
Ferris, Emil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A lot of people put down graphic novels as just comic books and many are little more than that. But there are a few that transcend this genre. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 is such an example. This debut novel by Emil Ferris tells the story of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, a girl growing up during the turbulent 1960s in Chicago. Reyes is an aspiring artist and her story is told in her perspective with detailed drawings filled with B-movie horror monsters from her beloved matinees, all sketched by a very talented schoolgirl with a Bic pen in her spiral notebook. Her neighborhood is a scary place and so is dealing with her mother's late-stage cancer and her older brother's drug-dealing and pimping. It's why Karen wishes she was a monster -- to be safe from those she sees in real life. As just a family drama, this novel delivers. Then this beautifully illustrated work of art reminiscent of Robert Crumb and Otto Dix, becomes so much more. The ever-curious Karen decides to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. That sudden plot twist turns this work into an historical epic, a detective story and a psychological thriller that garnered numerous industry accolades and award nominations worldwide. Vol. 1 is currently available through PPLD while Vol. 2, the conclusion of the story, is scheduled to be published in September 2021.
AWARDS: 2018 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album-New, Best Writer/Artist and Best Coloring; 30th Annual Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Graphic Novel.

Reviewer's Name: Joe P.
Awards:
The Last Time I Lied
Sager, Riley
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was a very intriguing and easy to read! I stayed interested in all the characters and thought the plot was well developed.

Reviewer's Name: Kelly
The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone's Underdog
McIntyre, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I knew almost nothing about wolves going into this book and I am obsessed with them now. Rick brings such life to the initial wolves that were introduced into Yellowstone. I found myself fascinated with the lives of these wolves and rooting for certain wolves to "win."

Reviewer's Name: Melissa M.
Fortitude
Crenshaw, Dan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is fantastic! Dan Crenshaw offers brilliant advice on mental toughness and how to combat the outrage culture with critical thinking. Crenshaw's methods are simple, easy to practice, and are what is missing in today's society. Written from his life experiences of being a Navy SEAL and United States Congressman, Crenshaw makes this book relatable and applicable to everyone's lives. Crenshaw also cites many articles, studies, and medical experts to backup his advice. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to become a well-informed voter, contributing citizen, or successful person.

Reviewer's Name: John
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank
Rosenberg, Matthew
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank follows a group of four middle school kids planning a bank robbery. Throughout the story the characters face the prospect that right and wrong may not be as binary as their games make them out to be. This graphic novel does the Goonies, Stand by Me, and Stranger Things middle school group trope beautifully well, with notes of comedy and friendship. Although the story maintains a dark tone, Rosenberg includes brilliant humorous moments that add levity to the story and highlight the friendship between each of the characters. The art by Tyler Boss is phenomenal, completely immersing the reader into the book and constantly leaving us in awe. Each page is a masterpiece perfectly encapsulating the tone of the book and adding to the brilliant pacing of the book. The timing of each word and picture are masterfully placed becoming almost Wes Anderson. This graphic novel has easily become my all time favorite stand alone graphic novel and gets better each time I read it.

Reviewer's Name: Julia
A Darkling Plain
Reeve, Philip
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With the way Infernal Devices ended, I immediately knew there had to be a fourth book to finish this unique series. Few books resolve their respective series as well as A Darkling Plain does, which I can appreciate. In fact, the final epilogue was as beautiful as it was tragic. Along the way, the little loose ends tie up nicely so that all the characters are given some closure—whether or not they deserve it.

I wasn't wild with the time-skip tactic that Infernal Devices used since it basically split this series into two larger stories. Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold covered Hester and Tom's relationship, while the last two books covered their daughter's adventures. Of course, I was shocked with the ending of Infernal Devices, which did get an explanation in this book, even if it lessened the impact of that plot twist. That being said, some of the characters' fates were foreshadowed well ahead of this book, which left their ultimate fate somewhat anti-climactic.

Overall, I enjoyed how the idea of mobile cities eating each other in an evolutionary survival of the fittest came to its logical conclusion in this book. It's such a peculiar concept that was thoroughly explored in the previous three volumes so that this book could wrap up this phase in the post-apocalyptic timeline with enough room to give some hope for a future. After all, I have yet to run across a science fiction series that combines so many tropes so well and manages to conclude its complicated plotlines in such a satisfying way.

A satisfying ending of a unique series, I give A Darkling Plain 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher
Sapkowski, Andrzej
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Those of us who have seen Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher will find this collection of short stories quite familiar. The first book in the series, The Last Wish introduces the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, as he goes about his job ridding the world of dangerous supernatural creatures. It’s no wonder the TV series felt a little disjointed, as it had a series of short stories that were loosely connected via Geralt to work with. Still, these stories are solid and help flesh out the world where humans and creatures live together, rarely in harmony.

Told in a somewhat chronological manner, these bite-size stories often carry over and blend into each other in a way that feels natural. Actions in one story may influence the characters in another, so there is something deeper here than just a collection of short stories. While this technique is rarely used, I can appreciate how each story has a purpose in advancing the main character's overall story. That being said, not every story is as enthralling as trying to save a noble’s daughter from a curse (which was one of the best in the set).

Part of why I like this method of storytelling is how simple it is. There’s no huge overarching and complex series of events here. The only character that matters is Geralt and how he reacts to the people around him and the jobs he takes to pay the bills. While additional characters like Yennefer or Ciri help to round out the series, focusing on the series’ namesake is important for building a foundation for world-building. I almost wish more series would take this route, as it helps establish the lore before diving into the first “official” book's main plot.

Great character foundation through multiple short stories, I give The Last Wish 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Murder on the Orient Express
Crhistie, Agatha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Murder on the Orient Express is the story of detective Hercule Poirot who is taking the train the Orient Express when a man gets murdered on board. With the help of the the doctor and other staff members on board, Poirot plans to solve the murder before the train arrives at its destination and the murder is free to walk away.

This book is very well written and has many plot twists so you are constantly looking forward to what comes next. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery. It is fairly easy to understand and could be easily read by anyone 5th grade and up.

Reviewer's Name: Emily S.
Awards:
The Red Badge of Courage
Crane, Stephen
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Red Badge of Courage is really not a great book. It is centered around the Civil War and tells the story of Henry, a Union soldier who leaves his farm to go fight. During the war he cannot make up his mind to run away from the field or stick with his friends in battle. While some might find the book interesting, personally it just dragged on and on. Sometimes it would go really in depth into a battle or a part of the story that was not very important and in others it would just gloss over a major part that you needed to understand. I would not recommend this book to anyone as it is hard to understand and is not very well written.

Reviewer's Name: Emily S.
Storm Front: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Butcher, Jim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jim Butcher brings to life a world filled with magic. This does not save Harry Dresden from very real problems - keeping up with rent, car troubles, and more. This gives the story a grounding in reality that makes aspects of it relatable, despite its focus on the supernatural. Dresden is stubborn, but he always tries to do the right thing. As he tries to solve multiple homicides and searches for a missing person, he finds there is something darker going on than he first believed. His race against the clock adds a thrill that makes the book hard to put down.

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
Awards:
Genres:
V for Vendetta
Moore, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

V for Vendetta follows V as he fights against an authoritarian government and trains a successor. The book questions the cost of losing art, literature, and beauty in an attempt to create complete control over society. The art adds another dimension to the story, and the colors used in V's house compared to the outside world emphasize the underlying message. V's character is captivating because he possesses such knowledge and culture yet brings destruction. This leads readers to consider the necessity of violence to preserve culture. V's mask holds similarities to Guy Fawkes', and certain actions between the two are also similar, adding historical parallels to the story. V's strong ideals and actions to back them up lead him to become the face of a revolution but at what cost?

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
Awards:
Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ready Player One, a book by Ernest Cline, takes place in a dystopian future in 2045. The majority of the population spends most of their time inside a massive VR MMOSG, massively multiplayer online simulation game, called the Oasis. When the billionaire creator of the Oasis died, he left clues for an Easter Egg that he had hid in his game, and the first one who finds it gets his entire fortune. This story is about the adventure of Wade Watts, a kid from the Stacks in Columbus, Ohio, as he searches for that egg. This book is amazingly written, and you will be wanting to know what happens next as you read. You may have seen the movie, but the book is a masterpiece, the story is much richer, and definitely worth the read!

Reviewer's Name: Torin K.
A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens, Charles
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Tale of Two Cities is a captivating book. Set during the period leading up to and during the French Revolution, the book details how the French aristocracy and the French Revolution affected the rich and the poor through the stories of Charles Darnay and Alexandre Monette. It also shows the angry and vengeful side of the Revolution through the Defarge's and their wine shop. A scene where a wine cask is dropped demonstrates the desperation and poverty experienced by the citizens of Paris that led to the anger behind the revolution. Dickens also brings the book to life through life-like characters that emotionally invest readers in the story. Alexandre Monette exhibits fatherly care for his daughter, yet he also struggles to deal with his time in prison, leading him to rely on his daughter for support. Sydney Carton contains likeable aspects mixed with relatable flaws that make him instantly lovable. Dickens expertly connects each scene to develop the story and foreshadows multiple aspects of the climactic ending throughout the book.

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
What You Said to Me (Tree of Life Series #4)
Newport, Olivia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This fourth in the Tree of Life Series by Olivia Newport is another unique story, weaving present day characters with prior generations. Meet Tisha, a 15 year old trying to find positive family relationships amidst her troubled life which leads her on a challenging and rewarding search. Set in Canyon Mines, this small mountain town unearths unexpected historical documents of her ancestors that just might change Tisha's future. It is an excellent read for both history and genealogical fans.

Reviewer's Name: Tammy H.
American Dirt
Cummins, Jeanine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I really enjoyed this book and the author's style and her ability to draw you in. She is very detailed in her descriptions with the main character's relationships and she causes you to become aware of issues in Mexico in a manner you may not have considered. While the book has received much criticism (you can research this), I think it is a worthy read to make us all want to dig deeper into the migrant situation.

Reviewer's Name: CJoos
Awards:
Book Cover
McManus, Karen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One of Us is Lying is a mystery novel about four high school students who are suspected for the murder of their classmate. Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, Nate, and Simon go into their after school detention following a normal day at school, but the events that happened after weren't so normal. Simon, the outcast and the creator of the high school's gossip app, has been murdered and the other students in detention claim they know nothing. Yet after his murder, the posts on his gossip app don't stop, eventually revealing some shocking things about the suspects. Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate decide to join forces and find out the truth behind Simon's murder.

Overall, this book was really good. I would have given it 5 stars but I feel like the description (from the book) is a little misleading. The book focuses on their lives after the murder of Simon Kelleher and not as much of them trying to solve the murder. While I really do like the way it explains the details of their lives, I just found it a bit misleading. Other than that, the book is great. I absolutely love the character development in this novel.

In the beginning Addy is what you might call a "dumb blonde" but later on she becomes much more independent and her character develops in many ways. I also really liked the plot twists, they completely blew me away! I can't reveal much more than that but I truly didn't expect some of the things that happened, to happen.

Reviewer's Name: Prarthana
Book Cover
Woolf, Virginia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Waves is an astounding novel by Virginia Woolf, known as her most experimental work. The novel is split into nine sections, each separated by a short passage describing the sea at a certain time of day; as the book progresses, these intercalaries move from sunrise to sunset to mirror the lives of the characters as they age in the succeeding chapters. The Waves is unique because Woolf uses a stream of consciousness writing style to capture the thoughts of her characters rather than dialogue, enhancing her characterization and creating her own take on fiction. The novel follows the lives of six friends, beginning with their childhood together. It explores the depths of human thought and as they grow older, and dives into questions of mortality and purpose. Each of the characters is starkly different from the rest, shedding light on the complexities of life through multiple perspectives.

Woolf does an amazing job of creating emotional depth in this short yet vast novel. I found everything from her descriptions of the ocean and the earth to the nuances of ordinary life to be very beautiful. Woolf's questioning of existence through her characters led me to consider my own life, and I found myself often completely immersed in her vivid imagery and rich writing style.
This novel is realistic in that the characters are all flawed in some way, and have their own fears and dreams. The illumination of their internal conflicts through stream of consciousness makes the book very personal and intimate, which is a rare experience.

I can't even begin to do justice to The Waves, so I strongly recommend that all young adults and adults read it for themselves. It has been one of of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read, and there is something in it for everyone. Virginia Woolf's The Waves is a wise commentary on humanity and a magnificent work of art; it should be read to be believed.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H.

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